Approximately 25 loads of compressed natural gas are being shipped daily from Princeton to Aldergrove. Photo courtesy of Fortis

Truck hauling compressed gas for ‘virtual pipeline’ crashes on B.C. highway

Driver charged and highway closed for nine hours - containers did not rupture

A truck that crashed on Highway 3 was hauling compressed natural gas from Princeton to the Lower Mainland as part of an experimental “virtual pipeline.”

The artery was closed in both directions for nine hours on Jan. 9, as a recovery crew worked to overturn the transport without damaging four large containers of gas.

“Fortunately they were not ruptured in the crash,” said RCMP Corporal Chad Parsons.

The driver, who works for a Fortis BC contractor, was charged with driving too fast for road conditions, Parsons added.

He was not injured.

The accident occurred near Placer Mountain Service Road.

Parsons said given the rural nature of the area, no evacuation was required.

A spokesperson for the transport company, Cetarus, said he could not comment on the accident.

Nathan Ough, Cetarus vice-president, also declined to comment on the driver who was charged.

“Our internal investigation is currently an ongoing process thus I will not be able to provide additional details,” the email stated.

In an email to The Princeton Spotlight, a Fortis representative said the the energy firm remains confident in the operation’s security.

“Safety is our top priority and we do expect the same of our contractors. We’re comfortable with Certarus’ safety record and their response to this incident,” said Nicole Brown.

Fortis’ virtual pipeline, which starts in Princeton and ends in Aldergrove, was established in December as a response to the October 9 Enbridge natural gas pipeline explosion near Prince George.

Since then Cetarus has been delivering approximately 25 loads of compressed natural gas daily from the pipeline that is accessed near Princeton on Highway 5A.

The gas siphoned from the Princeton pipeline, which originates in Southern Alberta and normally serves only southern British Columbia, is being re-introduced to the Fortis system in Aldergrove to serve Lower Mainland customers whose gas supply was interrupted by the explosion.

The shipments are providing gas to approximately 1,200 homes and the project is expected to be completed next month.

In a December interview with The Princeton Spotlight, a Fortis spokesperson said the venture was the only one of its kind in the province, a trial and “almost like a pilot project.”

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